Legislation Has Just Been Introduced In The U.S. To Ban Deadly ‘Cyanide Bombs’ On Public Lands

Last week, important legislation was introduced in the U.S. that would ban the use of wildlife killing M-44 devices, commonly known as ‘‘cyanide bombs,’’ on public lands. These deadly devices are spring-loaded capsules armed with cyanide spray that have injured people and inhumanely killed thousands of animals every year.

More than 70 conservation groups, including Predator Defense, Center for Biological Diversity, and Peace 4 Animals have petitioned the U.S. Interior Department today to ban the use of these killing devices.

The legislation, known as “Canyon’s Law,” was first introduced in 2017 following a string of tragic incidents involving M-44s. Canyon Mansfield was 14 years old when he inadvertently triggered an M-44 device on public land behind his home in Pocatello, Idaho, which killed his dog and injured him. He was believed to have been spared from death because of the wind’s direction.

“Working side by side with the Mansfield family since their tragedy, as well as with other M-44 victims for over 30 years, I have witnessed the pain and loss these indiscriminate devices inflict,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, a national wildlife advocacy group, told WAN. “M-44s can never be used safely. We need to ban these poison landmines before there are more victims. This is not a partisan issue. It is a public safety issue.”

“These poison-spewing devices are too dangerous to be used on public lands,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Year after year, we see tragic reports of cyanide bombs injuring people and killing unintended victims like dogs and rare wildlife. Congress can prevent the next tragedy by finally banning these indiscriminate devices.”

In late 2019, the Trump administration announced it would reauthorize the use of sodium cyanide in M-44s despite overwhelming public support for a nationwide banThe Environmental Protection Agency allows the devices to be used by Wildlife Services, the animal-killing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Last year, Federal agents reported using M-44s in 10 states: Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. The EPA also authorizes state agencies in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas to use M-44s.

According to Wildlife Services’ own data, the program poisoned approximately 6,000 animals in 2022 using M-44s. More than 150 of these animals were killed unintentionally, including dogs and dozens of foxes. The program’s use of M-44s has declined slightly since 2021, when it used M-44s to kill approximately 7,500 animals.

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